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The Substitute - Short Story by Garreth Keating

On a dripping dirty day Miss Cummins was fighting for control of the bodies and souls of 1b and wondering if these bodies and souls were worth the fight. They were a pack of shitheads if the truth be told and not one of them would give her the time of day, neither in class nor outside in the real world.

“Fuck off, you Nazi bitch,” the boy shouted.

“I won’t fuck off for no commie,” the school girl screamed. “We’ll gas ya; We’ll gas you all.”

“Hey, you’ll be screaming in a higher tone of voice when we get into giving you the raping you deserve.”

“That’s the only way you could get any. Is it because you enjoy the other boys watching you?”

“Children, children please stop,” Miss Cummins intervened. “This is supposed to be a history class; where we try to learn from the past. If you can’t manage a simple role-play activity about a world war without fighting, we will have to go back to learning lists of dates.”

“Those Nazis started it, miss. They are always winding us up, miss,” a snotty boy in a football shirt complained.

“Well, try to ignore them; try to be a bit bigger than the Nazis. And you lot, try and be less provocative until the end of the class,” advised Miss Cummins.

“Miss, I don’t want to be a Nazi. Can’t I just be British?” asked a boy with thick glasses.
“British? Why on Earth would you want to be British? Listen, you are a Nazi and that’s it so just try to do it with a bit of enthusiasm, okay?” explained Miss Cummins again.

This kind of attitude was what most annoyed her. It was so tedious to have twenty-four little people think they could just run the class. They just couldn’t get up and get on with things in an efficient and speedy manner. And there were a couple of students she really hated. The class would work so much better without them. She put so much of herself into these classes. And they gave absolutely nothing back to her.

That wasn’t quite true, she reminded herself. One time, an older class had actually given her a present. It was a BIC razor. At first, she didn’t get it. Why should this class of all classes be the one to give her a present? It was a BIC razor for her barely noticeable moustache. Those bastards.

After the class she hurried to the staffroom in a terrible mood. Only Mr. Manning and Mr. Brightside were there. Thank God. Not that Manning and Brightside were wonderful human beings but compared to some of the others... Miss Cummins shuddered.

“Good afternoon Miss Cummins, chocolate digestive?” Manning asked.

“Make it two.”

“God, is it that kind of a day?”

“You know, there are days when you just have to admit that children are just evil. I mean, little devils. The spawn of Satan!” she said shaking and trembling her voice.

“They get away with too much at this school. They don’t have enough discipline. Those kids know how to manipulate the system,” said Manning.

“Yes. It starts with the parents you know. They let them get away with far too much at home. It’s too late by the time they get to primary,” Brightside chipped in.

“But school discipline has to play a role. I hate to say it but the day they did away with corporeal punishment, I don’t think they foresaw a day like today,” Manning insisted.

“Yes, today was definitely a day in which some students deserved to get clattered,” she said, feeling strangely vindicated.

“You know, you are so right. Somebody should take the task in hand. The government won’t do anything. Did you see that torture commissioner on the telly? Well, this lad from the EU wants to make it a crime to smack your own child,” said Brightside.

“They’re useless that lot. The media are worse. And sure no one listens to the church any more. There’s no one around to give those young fellas a kick up the arse when they want it,” said Manning.

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